royal wedding mugs

To put it kindly, monarchies are gauche. Perhaps not more gauche than other nations’ oligarchies, but finding the attention lavished on literal welfare queens aggravating (even if it’s only a couple bucks per taxpayer, England is going through severe austerity cuts), I was fully prepared to avoid today’s wedding festivities. No such luck—now, or apparently in the future.

royal wedding press

Oh, no. Really? Apparently. I was trying to figure out why #royalwedding was a sponsored tweet (was it on their registry?) and came across this:

royal wedding brand

God save the brand / we mean it, man.

I blanched, but perhaps it’s the least they deserve: from the divine right of kings to the commercial requirements of entertainment corporations in four centuries. Best of luck to the happy romantic leads couple.

It could be worse. In fact, it was worse: in 1959, Queen Elizabeth II visited historic downtown Chicago, and everyone went nuts.

It would be the first time a reigning British monarch had ever visited Chicago, and Daley took great pains to choreograph every detail of the visit. On the appointed day, more than a million people lined the shores of Lake Michigan to greet the queen and prince as they arrived on the royal yacht Britannia, accompanied by seven warships and five hundred smaller vessels, including two Chinese junks. Daley presented the queen with a box of recordings by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the prince with two polo mallets, and he hosted a lavish dinner for the royal couple, complete with gold tablecloths, gold service, and 50,000 roses. In remarks that were perhaps more informal than his royal company was accustomed to, Daley invited them to "come again and bring the children." The queen’s visit created a media frenzy that more than met Daley’s expectations. The Sun-Times alone put the story on its front page, and promised additional stories and pictures on pages 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 22, 24, and 25, prompting Time magazine to snipe that the paper had single-handedly confirmed Chicago’s reputation as the Windy City. The queen’s visit was one of the highlights of Daley’s years in office; his associates say it was an important turning point for him in coming to appreciate the stature that came with his office. [American Pharaoh, p. 247]

I know Chicago politics are also based on familial succession, but that seems like overkill. Now we can’t even have a sponsored party featuring everyone’s favorite AM-radio band—Saaaaaturday, here in the park, I think it was the fourth of July—without someone (me) being a wet blanket. Progress? So I guess I can deal with the #RoyalWedding today.


Photograph: celesteh